The Studio for Complex Human Environment Design (SCHED) is a design research studio that strives to improve the human experience in complex manufactured environments.

Studio for Complex Human Environment Design logoSCHED continuously evolves its cutting-edge design methodology and extensive knowledge of complex environments to support human life and human work− world-class people in world-class systems.

Developed in collaboration with the Australian Government’s lead science and technology agency, the Defence Science Technology Group, SCHED uses human-centred design methods to improve habitability on board Australia's future submarines.

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    SCHED works with a range of University research groups with expertise in biomechanics, psychology (Behaviour-Brain-Body-Research Centre), and the Australian Research Centre for Interactive and Virtual Environments to develop integrated solutions that address the technical, physiological and psychological requirements.


    The outcome of the design process is a grounded, practical, user-focused design proposal which is supported with physical prototypes, virtual reality, fly throughs, and functional artefacts. This includes documentation of the process providing the evidence-base for the design including literature reviews and reports of the user engagement workshops and outcomes.

    Industry and User Engagement

    SCHED have worked closely with defence industries including DST, Lockheed Martin Australia, Naval Group Australia, and SAAB Australia. They have also worked closely with the Royal Australian Navy to understand what life is like for submariners, and have developed a rich and deep understanding of what it is like to live in these isolated and confined environments.

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    SCHED utilises the ‘Double Diamond” design thinking process for their human centred design approach. This two-factored approach enables effective design and implementation of solutions for complex environments. This approach develops usable environments and design systems by focusing on the users’ needs and requirements, as well as considering the technical constraints of the environment. This is achieved by applying a wide range of user focused qualitative design methods in conjunction with knowledge of human factors/ergonomics and usability.

    The first ‘diamond’ describes the research processes including engagement with users to understand the physical, work, organisational and technical context, as well as their tasks and goals. Physical prototyping is an important part of this process, as it is used to define ergonomic and hardware hard points, as well as engagement with stakeholders.

    The second ‘diamond’ describes the development process. This includes the use of models and virtual reality to aid the development of the design through an iterative process of developing designs and engaging with users for feedback and input into design development.

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    SCHED uses a range of methods, tools and skills to investigate and understand end-user needs and requirements, ensuring that the design output provides usable and effective design solutions.

    These include:

    • Ergonomics and anthropometry - We have a detailed understanding of how to apply anthropometry for design development with the use of Digital Human Mannequins (DHMs) CAD models and real physical evaluation of use scenarios.
    • Physical construction - We have access to a range of workshops and physical prototyping facilities, where we construct functional prototype of varying levels of complexity. These are used throughout the process and are a key tool for the development, engagement, and communication. In addition, we have the capacity to construct finished environments.
    • CAD modelling and Virtual Reality (VR) – We use VR for simulation, design development and client liaison. This is used in conjunction with Digital Human Mannequins so that human sizing is integrated throughout the design development process.
    • User Engagement- A core part of the development and research activity is the user engagement techniques and strategies. This involves a range of workshop and codesign activities throughout the design process.
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    SCHED: Humans at the helm of our submarines

    The interiors of Australia’s future submarines are being crafted, not in the dockyards where you may expect, but in an anonymous building in the UniSA labyrinth between Adelaide’s Hindley Street and North Terrace.

    Here, the structure and design that will define how our sailors work, eat and sleep, even how they shower or read a book, is being tested and analysed in full-scale, detailed cardboard models.

    It is one of the few human-centred industrial design approachs specific to the shipbuilding industry in the world.

    Profile of SCHED written by Bill Condie

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Putting people at the centre of the design process

Dr Peter Schumacher, Leader of the Studio for Complex Human Environment Design within IVE, explains human-centred design and how this research is being applied to developing complex confined human environments for high-intensity activities.

UniSA Video

Contact information

SCHED is made up of a group of designers with extensive and diverse design expertise and experience.

Peter Schumacher
Senior Lecturer, UniSA Creative
K3-14, City West Campus
Simon Modra
Research Assistant, UniSA STEM

Contact us